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Does Ticketing Drivers Make Pedestrians Safer?

Photo by Emily Donahue, KUT News
A new police program is ticketing drivers who don't yield to pedestrians.

With a string of recent auto-pedestrian fatalities, the Austin Police Department announced it's enhancing its Pedestrian Enforcement Safety Team initiative by targeting drivers at crosswalks – and using officers as decoys.

There have been eight pedestrians and bicyclists killed in crashes so far this year. Police Chief Art Acevedo said drunk drivers and drunken pedestrians contribute to Austin’s number of pedestrian deaths, but drivers that fail to yield to pedestrians are responsible for more deaths than drunk drivers.

“Alcohol plays a huge role, we all know that already, but it doesn’t play the sole role,” Acevedo tells KUT News. “And that’s why we’re going to have these undercover officers crossing at crosswalks and for the drivers that don’t stop, you can be assured of one thing – and that’s you will get a ticket.”

In the program, officers will be using crosswalks in dressed in plain clothes. And drivers who do not yield to pedestrians will be given tickets. Today, on the first day of the initiative, Austin police issued:

36 citations to vehicles for failure to yield to pedestrians 2 citations to pedestrians for disregarding the walk signal 10 warnings to vehicles

Police say that officers will be at crosswalks daily and the initiative will go on indefinitely.

Not all are happy about the new initiative. Criminal justice blogger Scott Henson writes “For the most part, though, the city should address these mainly as traffic engineering questions as opposed to law-enforcement concerns.” He continues that “Assessing tickets and fines for petty offenses while telling the public it's for their own protection comes off as self serving as it is patronizing in an era when municipal tickets are viewed as a lucrative revenue source.”

What's you opinion on the new citation initiative? Let us know in the comments. 

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.
Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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